In early 2019, Green Economy Canada launched a competitive application round to select new communities to work with that were interested in launching a Green Economy Hub. For the first time — with the support of a $250,000 investment from the Government of Canada for our national network expansion — we invited applicants outside of Ontario.
The applicants were evaluated based on the readiness of their community, the potential for impact of a Green Economy Hub, and their organizational capacity to take on this work. Green Economy Canada selected two strong applicants to work with — the New Brunswick Environmental Network (NBEN), who are exploring Hub development across New Brunswick, and a collaborative partnership in Peterborough to continue Hub exploration in Peterborough, Ontario.
We’re currently working with NBEN through our standardized 8-milestone “Hub Launch Process” to determine if there is community buy-in and interest to launch a Hub in New Brunswick, as well as adequate funding and resourcing. This marks the first time we’re exploring how the Green Economy Hub model could be applied outside of Ontario — an exciting step for our network!
In June 2019, the New Brunswick Environmental Network completed the first milestone of this process – hosting community workshops. With interest in exploring community and business response to the Green Economy Hub model and the opportunity it presents across the province, NBEN held five workshops in different communities: Bathurst, Edmundston, Fredericton, Moncton, and Saint John.
Read on to learn about what happened in these workshops, and attendees’ response to the idea of a Green Economy Hub.
Each workshop started with attendees sharing their name, the organization they were representing, and what drew them to the workshop.
Afterwards, the New Brunswick Environmental Network and Green Economy Canada set the context for the event – speaking about the role and function of a Green Economy Hub, and why the time is right for business-led climate action in New Brunswick.
Jumping into the hands on part of the event, attendees brainstormed the initiatives, programs, organizations, and policies currently operating in their community that could complement or springboard a Green Economy Hub. They started by individually generating ideas on post-it notes.
And then compiled them on a large board to learn about and discuss what others had identified, grouping post-its into themes where relevant.
Next, attendees were introduced to the suite of potential services that a Hub could deliver, and asked to vote via ‘dotmocracy’ on the ones that would be most important for their organizations to have access to if they were to become members of the Hub.
Service options that resonated most strongly with attendees across the workshops included: best practice templates, educational forums, connections to local service providers, project planning support, access to carbon accounting software, technical workshops, and on-site walkthroughs.
After voting, attendees returned to their table groups, and discussed in more detail whether the themes seen with the dotmocracy results resonated with them, why they had picked certain services, and whether there were any services missing or underrepresented in the voting that they still felt were important to acknowledge.
Lastly, attendees discussed how they expected their community’s businesses, and their individual organizations, would respond to setting and reporting on sustainability targets. Overall, the conversations on public target-setting centered around a few core themes:
- that sustainability targets would help to build employee attraction and retention,
- that every business is unique therefore targets need to be flexible and suitable for different sectors and sizes of businesses; and,
- that the business case for sustainability action needs to be more clearly communicated to get businesses on board with target setting and taking action.
Attendees and facilitators mingled post-event to share their reflections and excitement for accelerating business-focused climate action in New Brunswick.
Visual workshop summary notes created by an attendee. (Above photo supplied by Julia Feltham, Twitter: @juliafeltham)
Now that NBEN has completed their community workshops, and heard support for a Green Economy Hub voiced by stakeholders across the province, they are moving on to the next two milestones in the exploration phase: one-on-one market research conversations with key stakeholders, and writing a business plan.
Co-facilitators from New Brunswick Environmental Network and Green Economy Canada feeling energized after the workshops.
We are excited to continue to bolster the reach and impact of the entire network, as we work towards launching additional Green Economy Hubs alongside local partners across Canada!